Through the picture window in your rail carriage, the red plains of Central Australia flow past as the sun sets over the outback. Soon you’re enjoying aperitifs with your work colleagues and preparing for dinner in an elegant lounge and dining car.
Your three-course meal includes kangaroo steaks, saltwater barramundi and a rich Australian shiraz. Later, when you retire to your private cabin, a marvel of comfort and compaction, looking forward to an exciting few days of exploration ahead, you fall asleep easily to the rattle and sway of the train.
This scenario is an easily accessible experience down under on The Ghan, one of the three legendary trains operated by the Great Southern Rail company. It owns The Ghan (Adelaide-Alice Springs-Darwin), Overland (Melbourne-Adelaide) and Indian Pacific (Sydney-Adelaide-Perth) rail journeys. The latter is reputed to be the only transcontinental train linking two oceans in the world.
In particular The Ghan, which takes its name from 19th Century Afghan camel drivers who helped explore the interior, is an increasingly popular venue for incentive organisers, according to Damien Wolff, Business Development Manager – Groups and Niche for Great Southern Rail.
The train traverses the continent from Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs on a three-day, two-night journey,and Great Southern Rail works with Australia’s Northern Territory Convention Bureau to develop special rail-and-land itineraries for incentive groups travelling the route.
The offers are in respect of the train’s “Platinum” offer, the highest level of service aboard which includes a private cabin with double or twin bedding, en-suite bathroom, in-room breakfast if you want it, all meals and beverages as well as a variety of off-train excursions centred mostly around Katherine and Alice Springs.
The Platinum club lounge (pictured) can be arranged as an exclusive space when all the Platinum cabins are booked by a group, says Damien. There’s a discrete lounge area for meetings as well as a flexible dining room.
“The Ghan has scheduled stops that include Katherine, where you can take a cruise along Nitmiluk Gorge or a helicopter flight, and Alice Springs where guests can take a walking tour of Simpsons Gap, visit the fantastic Alice Springs desert park or a tour on camels,” Damien says.
A typical itinerary put together by the NT Convention Bureau and incorporating a ride on The Ghan can look something like this:
Arrive at Alice Springs. Visit a local gallery and lunch with Indigenous artists. Take a bike ride, meet local wildlife at the Alice Springs desert park or play eighteen holes on a desert course. Dinner is a barbecue at the foot of the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges. Entertainment includes a cattleman’s demonstration and line-dancing.
Early hot-air balloon flight followed by champagne breakfast. Visit Simpsons Gap for lunch created by an Indigenous chef, followed by a guided walk through the National Park. Dine and be entertained at the Cultural Precinct theatre in the evening.
Fly to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) and check into an eco-sensitive resort. Options include a Harley Davidson ride around Uluru or participation in a dot-painting workshop. A ride on desert camels sets the scene for a dinner finale under the stars.
Take a cultural guided walk around Uluru. Enjoy some poolside time or get off the beaten track with an offroad four-wheel drive experience. (Trips can include a night at Kings Canyon with a degustation dinner under the stars and a helicopter ride.)
Board The Ghan. Settle in and take in the views of the outback with a glass of Australian wine in hand. Liaise with colleagues.
In the morning explore the Nitmiluk Gorge in Katherine. Cruise along ancient waterways be inspired by Aboriginal art and dreamtime stories. Enjoy restaurant-quality lunch back on board before arriving in Darwin that evening.
Platinum from AUD $2,549
In the high season from April to November, Ghan “Platinum” fares per person are advertised on its website as AUD 2,549 from Adelaide to Alice Springs or vice versa, or from Alice Springs to Darwin or vice versa. (Low season: AUD 2,289). High season Platinum fares from Adelaide to Darwin or vice versa are AUD 3,699 per person.
Platinum cabins are almost twice the size of the train’s Gold Twin arrangements and by day can be configured as a private lounge with lounge seating, a table and two ottomans. By night the lounges convert to double or twin beds. Vegetarian, kids’ and special meals are available when making bookings. The Platinum Service fare includes breakfasts, two-course lunches and three-course dinners.
See more at www.greatsouthernrail.com.au.
Or contact Damien Wolff at Damien.firstname.lastname@example.org.